Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson
The Rise of the User Generated City
Maps are often taken as reality, as objective presentations of fact, but anyone studying cartography recognizes maps as a relatively subjective form. They are communication tools rooted in culture and history and how we understand territory depends on our perspective. Interpretation, bias, and circumstance play a large role. This article explores a series of questions arising out of the unprecedented access to mapping technologies. What impact does user generated mapping have on our perception of cities and space? Will access to photocartography, like Google Earth, bias our understanding of what a particular geography can achieve? Or will the various filters, the many different perspectives, open us up to new possibilities? What happens when we become the cartographers of our own lives?
Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson is a Baltimore-based writer who covers architecture, design, urban planning, and culture for publications like The New York Times Magazine, Metropolis, and Architect. (Urban Palimpsest blog